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Matt Wellens | Duluth News Tribune | January 22, 2018

Minnesota Duluth streaking after sweep of No. 7 UND

  The Bulldogs are unbeaten in their last seven after taking down UND.

For the second consecutive night, the Minnesota Duluth power play torched the North Dakota Fighting Hawks.

And the Bulldogs' penalty kill wasn't too shabby, either.

By going 3-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill, No. 14 UMD finished off the weekend NCHC sweep of the seventh-ranked Fighting Hawks with a 5-2 victory Saturday in front of a sellout crowd of 6,903 at Amsoil Arena.

It was the eighth straight win for the Bulldogs (13-9-3 overall, 7-7-0 NCHC) over the Fighting Hawks 12-8-6, 6-6-2) dating to the 2016 NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinals. UMD also owns an eight-game winning streak against the Minnesota Gophers.

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More important than those streaks is UMD's five-game NCHC winning streak that has vaulted it from last in the league to fifth, just one point back of the fourth-place Hawks.

The Bulldogs will host St. Cloud State next Friday and Saturday at Amsoil Arena, but before that will take a seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1) into a nonconference contest at 7:07 p.m. Tuesday against Minnesota State-Mankato.

"We got another game on Tuesday and another tough opponent next weekend, but we'll enjoy it no question. Those are big points for us," UMD coach Scott Sandelin said of the sweep, after deflecting a question about the eight-game winning streak he now holds over his alma mater and former employer. "We want to keep it going. All these types of games, all these types of weekends can hopefully continue to build our team.

"Tonight was a great example of that. This was a great challenge for our team."

The Bulldogs head to Mankato for their final nonconference game of 2017-18 with a red-hot power play that is 13-for-24 (54.2 percent) over the last six games. It was 3-for-5 in Friday's 5-3 victory over North Dakota, with a fourth goal coming seconds after an advantage expired.

Hibbing native Scott Perunovich, a freshman defenseman, scored the Bulldogs' first two power-play goals Saturday. They came 16 seconds apart to put the Bulldogs ahead 3-2 during the second period, when UMD outshot North Dakota 17-3.

Perunovich picked up his first of the night and fifth of the season during a 5-on-3 advantage, sniping the puck into the top left corner of the net from the top of the left faceoff circle. His second of the night and sixth of the season came in a similar fashion, but on a 5-on-4 advantage and from the bottom of the right faceoff circle.

Perunovich said a screen by sophomore wing Riley Tufte -- who later scored an empty-netter -- was the reason for the first goal. On the second, Perunovich said he blacked out from the excitement of the first.

"I had the puck at center ice and Tufte was right in front of the goalie, who couldn't see a thing," Perunovich said. "I shot the puck and it just went straight in. The goalie didn't even know. If Tufte wasn't there, it's not going in."

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The third power-play goal came from junior wing and assistant captain Parker Mackay midway through the third period. Mackay got decked as he was releasing his shot, but the puck still found the top of the Hawks net.

North Dakota, which finished the series 1-for-11 on power plays, jumped out to a 2-0 lead via a pair of goals 30 seconds apart in the opening seven-plus minutes.

Junior wing Shane Gersich scored first for his seventh goal of the season by picking up his own rebound on a breakaway. Senior captain Austin Poganski netted the next one for his ninth of the season on a delayed penalty against the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs killed off that penalty, and shortly after senior center Jared Thomas of Hermantown pulled the Bulldogs within one by putting a puck in off his shin.

"We had a couple timely penalty kills there," UMD senior captain Karson Kuhlman said. "We got after them. We had the right systems in place, we worked on it a lot this week because we knew how big special teams was going to be coming into the weekend."

This article is written by Matt Wellens from Duluth News Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.